Drink / Drug Driving

I’m off to a funeral on Monday - for a charming 15 year old boy who was killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver last week. He was on his scooter on the short drive home from college when he was hit by a car coming in the opposite direction. The driver of the car was on the wrong side of the road. He fled the scene, hit another car in the next village he came to and disappeared. He was identified simply because his front number plate fell off at impact and was found next to the body of the young lad in the roadside ditch. He’d been drinking.

Joshua was the grandson of our close friends and neighbours and, needless to say, it’s been horrendous for them, his parents and their entire family - and will be for a long, long time to come. The number of people affected by Joshua’s death is difficult to imagine - it’s a small rural, close-knit community any just about everyone is touched in some way.

I’m sharing this information, not as a public information broadcast (!), but in the hope that it will simply make some stop and think. I know that many immigrants and second home owners in France drink and drive - I see it happen on a regular basis. It’s almost as if drinking ‘overseas’ doesn’t count. I’ll also admit to having been behind the wheel after a drink - thankfully I haven’t managed to kill anyone.

As part of my small effort at a lasting tribute to Joshua, I will never drink and drive again. Neither will I get into a car when I know the driver has been drinking. This week I’ve witnessed first hand the gut-wrenching results of stupidity. Joshua’s grandmother calls the driver an ‘assassin’ who murdered her beautiful grandson.


How grim Simon, condolences to all concerned. Scooters make people so vulnerable and people who drink and drive are just the worst.


A truly sad story. I hope the person responsible is punished severely for this. That poor family must be suffering such pain. My husbands teenage nephew was killed in a similar accident although he was a passenger in a car. His parents are still suffering many many years later. It’s a real tragedy when a young person is killed so senselessly.


something ive always detested. my niece was killed by a speeding motorist who was just under the uk limit. (they took several hours to get blood from him so likely he was over before.)

I do not even drink panache if im driving anywhere planned. (panache is my limit)

sorry about the loss and hope they string the evil person up for it.

Im a firm believer we should adopt a zero drink to drive policy like places like sweden.


Sobering thought… when I find just how long it takes to be “alcohol free”… the results are in Hours and Minutes (it clearly says that in French, but not in English :wink: )

Effect 0.1 per mille alcohol

Even small amounts of alcohol have a disinhibiting effect. We are becoming more outgoing, our mood is loosened. What we don’t realize is that we are already misjudging distances.
Effect 0.3 per mille alcohol

At this level, there is often a slight reduction in visual performance. Our alertness and responsiveness are diminishing, our critical faculty is reduced and the willingness to take risks is increasing.
Effect 0.5 per mille alcohol

We see worse and worse, we have lost about 15% of our visual performance with this per mille value. The hearing is also impaired and we are no longer able to estimate speeds correctly. It can happen that we accidentally bump into someone while walking by. It is not uncommon for us to get angry because we are more irritable than in a sober state.

First of all this issue is clearly very close to many people’s hearts where they have lost a loved one, friend, or simply someone they knew to a drink-drive incident. Simon (and Harry) - I know we have never met (other than on SF), nor know each other but I would like to offer my condolences for both your losses.

The background to the decisions governments make has some basis in rationality so just to provide some information to help inform the discussion - this is the typical graph quoted. This particular image courtesy of the New Zealand government.

I’m not sure about the units used in the description Stella copied but I think they are “parts per 1000” so 0.1 is the same as 10mg/100ml and 0.5 is 50mg/100ml.

Even though small amounts of alcohol do have measurable effects on mood and reaction times the UK limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood (or 35 μg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath) is based on the notion that the risk of an accident rises only slowly at first and a totally arbitrary cut off of 20% increased risk was chosen.

The trouble is that the effects on an individual vary considerably - the NZ graph shows this in that it also plots some lines for younger people, eg for the 20-29 age group that 20% cut off is reached at 50mg/100ml - not surprising given that you have less experience with alcohol at that age and less experience on the road.

My own view is that a limit of 50 is reasonable - and I think that the UK should change to that. The evidence for a lower limit, say 30mg is reasonably strong in terms of limiting the risks for the 17-19 year olds who are just starting to get behind the wheel and just starting out with alcohol as well. Many EU countries (including France, I think) have lower limits for inexperienced drivers, most EU countries have limits in the range 20-50, and you can see from the graph why the figures usually fall in this range. Sweden, which was mentioned in the other thread, is 20mg/100ml according to Wikipedia.

Below that I don’t think there is much to be gained and it brings some practical difficulties eg for people who are otherwise responsible but who have residual levels the morning after consuming alcohol even if they were sensible and did not drive when they were actually drinking.


Hi Paul… the numbers I quoted were taken from the link I provided. :slight_smile: the link, of course, goes into greater depth… It has made me even more aware… and I will be joining the Zero brigade when I get back to driving.

I know, As far as I can see it just assumes that the reader will know what “0.1 per mille” means.

I was going to go on and say that I don’t like these “booze calculator” things - there is too much variation in how alcohol affects people, and too many other factors (fatigue being a big one) so I think that there is a danger that they will encourage people to take risks with alcohol and driving, “because the calculator said I would be OK”.

The French idea of having a breathalyser in the car has some merit but I’m not sure how likely a driver would be to use one. It seems to have fizzled out in practice with the “compulsory but no punishment” thing.

Sadly, there will always be folk who think “I will be alright”… be it drink, drugs or speed…:cry:


Here’s a recent BFM TV article which includes a calculator to estimate your blood alcohol levels. That said, I’m with Harry - make it 0% - simple for everyone to remember!

Sécurité routière: avant de prendre la route, calculez votre taux d’alcoolémie:



Around 600+ at the ‘hommage’ this morning followed by Joshua’s cremation - the family aren’t religious, little point really. An enormous turn out for such a low populous area - it really slammed home just how many people were impacted in some way by Joshua’s untimely death. Single white roses only - forming a carpet leading to his white coffin at the front of the hall. Some of his school / college mates read out their heart wrenching tributes to an incredibly popular young man - none of his direct family were able to speak, they are shattered beyond words. Sad beyond words.

Sadly I doubt much will change on the drink driving front. Certainly, in this area, there is a cultural acceptance of it - not just among the immigrants and second home owners as I mentioned earlier! It’s almost as if ‘wine’ with a meal, at a fete, at any celebration, at a hunt - just doesn’t count. I remember back in 2011 when the CRS Police threatened to go on strike if their 25cl glass of wine ‘allowance’ with their main meal was taken away from them. Imagine a culture where you can legally drink alcohol and carry arms. Not sure what happened there - it all seemed to just blow over as lots of things tend to. Then you add into the pot that a driver banned for drink driving may, at some point in the future, be out on the road again driving a ‘sans permis’ vehicle. No hope really.

The guy that killed Joshua is being held in prison for the next 4 months pending the legal proceedings - probably just as well. He’s been charged with involuntary manslaughter and hit-and-run. He’s admitted drink driving.

Horribly sad story. As the mother of two fifteen year olds (one of whom is badgering me for a scooter) I feel very close to understanding the pain the family of Joshua is going through

We have never let our kids use a scooter for precisely the scenario you describe. It’s not the scooter is it, it’s the other chap safely wrapped in steel that causes the tragedy.

My thoughts are with you all at having to suffer such terrible sadness.

I also realised, thanks to working behind a bar when young, that alcohol hits much faster than people realise. I saw that the first drink of whisky or such has a very real effect and even wine started to change the manner and reactions of drinkers. I am sure they would’ve considered themselves still sober but as the only one in the room with no alcohol in my system i found it remarkable. In short stay off everything if you want to drive afterwards



The Scottish limit is 50 (blood) 22 (breath) and was changed in December 2014.

I’m aware of that - even more reason for the rest of the UK to fall in line. We’re a bit of an outlier at 80mg/100ml and it’s a bit nuts that you can start a journey south of the border legal and cease to be so when you cross into Scotland (because most people won’t think about this).

I live near the border (10 mins), but on the scottish side. I choose not to drink when driving. Just tried to read this sad story to my husband but physically couldn’t. It’s so heartbreaking in every way. In 1993 a family friend died (after a week on life support) in a car accident and drink was involved. The family won’t ever get over it properly. Will be thinking of Joshua today and his friends and family.

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My heart goes out to the innocent victim of this disaster because sadly I can empathise with you. In 1965 I was a young man of 23 and I had a wonderful brother called Keith who wass just 19 years old. At midnight on the 7th October 1965 he was stationary with his honda 50 cc motorcycle at some traffic lights waiting to turn right. A drunk driver came literally flying(according to an eye witness) over a hump back bridge in the middle of the road coming towards Keith he had nowhere to go and this fiend hit him at great speed. My brother was left dying on the road as this driver sped away to hide himself. Later at the trial this callous and cowardly murder stated that he was driving normally and this “thing” hit his windscreen! He has apparently had, had a row with his wife then gone to a pool club got drunk and fell out with his girlfriend and then drove off. His mood was “ugly” and I believe it was a case of nobody should be in his way. Whilst he was escaping he nearly put a police car off the road and also a police motorcyclist and went through numerous red lights. The police gave chase and he went to his home and hid in his garden where they found him. They arrested him and put him in an overnight cell. They told him he had just killed a young man and her just layed down and went to sleep. At his trial the witnesses were bullied by his lawyer to an extent which was totally unusual and unacceptable according to the police. He was banned for 5 years, fined 50 pounds and had to pay court fees of 100 pounds. That was apparently all my poor brother’s life was worth. My Mother, Father and Sister took there everlasting grief to their graves as I will. To add insult to injury the police told us apologetically this fiend who was 3 times over the then limit (much higher than now), would get his license back after 2 years because he was self-employed! At least now he would have been jailed for 10 years but then nothing. As I said, I feel the pain for this young boy’s family and friends and I know first hand how long that pain will last. There is not a day that passes that I don’t think about the terrible loss of my brother at thew hands of this fiend.


I can not think of anything sadder than this.
A young life destroyed in this way and every one who loved him
will suffer the misery of knowing that his death was caused by
someone who was selfish.

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